The brighter side of Anarchy


3.5/d20/OGL


I love to play chaotic characters, and for the most part I like to DM for chaotic characters. But the overall vibe I usually get from posts on these boards is that chaotic characters lead to lots of abuse and DM headaches.

I've also noticed that chaos is sometimes thought of as inferior to law. The idea that the demons only compete in the blood war because of limitless numbers, since their chaotic natures would make them easy to skatter and they would not do well in large battles as they lacked organization.

I figured I'd throw up this thread to facilitate some discussion about what chaos means for DM's and players.

What chaos means to me
I always think of chaos as the embodyment of change and adaptation. Chaotic creatures are never sated with the Status Quo for long, and are constantly and rapidly trying to pursue their goals by the most immediate means. They create short term plans and may abandon their original target objective altogether if they see a new goal within their grasp. Such characters are resistant to anything that would impede or restrict them. Thus obligations are typically avoided, in a manner consistant with the rest of their alignment. Chatic characters are driven by their emotions and feelings more so than other characters. Emotions are fickle and unpridicatable and giving oneself over to them removes the control that lawful characters thrive on. Chaotic characters revel in the flood of feelings, rage, lust, fear. There's lots more but iI'm really interested in what others have to say.

What chaos does not mean to me
A chaotic alignment is not semantics for "criminal". Chaotic characters can and often should take a cavalier stance on authority because they dislike restrictions. But manacles and prison cells are even more gross restrictions and chaotic characters would likely be quick to avoid them. Stealing is not any more chaotic than killing is evil. Chaotic good characters cannot go about pickpocketing strangers without an alignment change. The randomness of targets and opportunities is certainly chaotic but harming (even if not physically) of multiple and complete strangers out of greed is evil. A cat burgler who trains for months on one big "score", going over exit routes and contingency plans religiously is a Lawful character because his internal mechinations are direct calculated and meticulous and consistant.

Chaos does not mean stupid. Chaotic creatures are independant and quick to adapt. The hoards of the abyss might be a barely contained surge of violence compared to the perfect battallions and formations of Hells armies, but they have a very strong ace up their sleeve. Their troops are capeable of thinking for themselves and acting as independant units without loosing their effectiveness. A lone vrock will continue to go for his target without waiting for orders or commands. He won't hesistate to try something else if one tactic is failing, in fact he would probably change gears faster than the armies of hell could. If a demonic battallion is scattered then the surviving soldiers are really no worse for wear and will quickly try something more effective. If a regiment of devils finds themselves cut off from command the lack of leadership would cripple them. Creatures that are not capeable of change and adaptation are just as handicapped by those with no consistancy.

Liberty's Edge

I've just known so many "chaotic neutral" people in my life, that the whole "chaotic doesn't mean stupid" argument only half holds water with me. Have you ever known anyone who was their own worst enemy, that not only couldn't color inside the lines, but the mere suggestion of it would send them searching for a black sharpy to go berserk on the paper with? They HAVE to be that way. They're chaotic neutral.


Heathansson wrote:
I've just known so many "chaotic neutral" people in my life, that the whole "chaotic doesn't mean stupid" argument only half holds water with me. Have you ever known anyone who was their own worst enemy, that not only couldn't color inside the lines, but the mere suggestion of it would send them searching for a black sharpy to go berserk on the paper with? They HAVE to be that way. They're chaotic neutral.

~innocent look~ And does that desribe you, were-mutt?

(~grins~ Hey there!)

Liberty's Edge

Actually, at times, yes it does, or has.
Never been in the hoozegow, though. More "chaotic good wit' neutral tendancies, and WILLING to try and act lawful if it makes sense."


True; chaos is mostly portayed as evil in most genres and situations and chaotic characters usually dont make good party members if they are very headstrong as they would just be likely to go off to do there own things and the group dynamic would fall apart. Sure, there is always the need for the guy that bucks overweening authority and chafes at over regulation, but to much of a good thing is..well...bad.


I'd like to bring up the cat burglar and his months of preparation. I wouldn't immediately go so far as to call that act lawful (although, with a few more specific details, it may be revealed as such), and I'd also like to point out that a chaotic person could engage in such things and remain chaotic. I trust that Sexi understands this principle, but I'm taking this opportunity to exploit a vehicle to a related point.

Although it's different for outsiders (and more specifically, those with alignment subtypes), who are the physical incarnations of an idea or philosophy, mortals (at least) aren't so strictly held to their alignments. A Neutral Good person could get angry and commit murder, and still be Neutral Good (filled with remorse and guilt, shame and a desire to set things right; failure to feel in such a way would constitute as an alignment shift). A chaotic person can engage in long-term planning, can be loyal*, etc., and still be chaotic. It has a huge amount to do with intention, context, "net gains" (i.e., choosing a lesser evil for the greater good), and overall, long-term patterns in thinking and behavior.

In other words, alignment isn't a straight jacket for a character (although it can be for outsiders); it's simply an indication of overall behavior and philosophy. This is important to remember when talking about alignments and what someone of a certain mindset would, would, should, or shouldn't do. Just thought I'd toss that out there. Oh, and I agree with Sexi's assessment of chaos. Or at least, I think it's a valid set of chaotic options. Just as there is strength and weakness in the rigidity of law, the same exists within the malleability of chaos.

*I'm hesitant to lump loyalty out of friendship under law; blind loyalty stemming solely from one's position and tradition certainly is, but loyalty out of friendship has no alignment.


wow my post is missing

Liberty's Edge

Valegrim wrote:
True; chaos is mostly portayed as evil in most genres and situations and chaotic characters usually dont make good party members if they are very headstrong as they would just be likely to go off to do there own things and the group dynamic would fall apart. Sure, there is always the need for the guy that bucks overweening authority and chafes at over regulation, but to much of a good thing is..well...bad.

this one?


The core of a chaotic-aligned character to me is their refusal to recognize any overarching philosophy, religion or organization. They may be a part of all three of those things, but a chaotic character would never claim that there is a single Best or Only Way.

As a result, chaotic types tend to have less respect for authority and tradition than others do. They also tend to respect emotions more than others. However, chaotic does not mean that a character is ADD, insane, in constant emotional flux, larcenous, a backstabber, an anarchist or honorless.

At this point I will call out your example about the cat burglar as Saern did: planning does not make a character lawful any more than killing makes him evil. A burglar taking months to plan a heist just makes him a good burglar, perhaps even over-careful, but he can still be chaotic.

Well that's how I see Chaos,
TS

Liberty's Edge

Getting back to the cat burglar example, I don't know how well a chaotic individual would pull off the whole "months of planning" schema. He'd get drunk one night, get laid, wake up hungover, and try to wonder what the hell he was planning, then go down and hotwire a car. A 5.0 Mustang GT to go hauling ass all over the place in.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:


As a result, chaotic types tend to have less respect for authority and tradition than others do.

Well that's how I see Chaos,
TS

There is nothing wrong about an adventurer - an individual free of any obligations who put liberty in front of law in D&D. Actually it is the opposite : a lawful adventurer seems less likely in a fantasy medieval world, unless he is some kind of priest or a paladin. Adventurer by nature are outcast. They just do not fit in the world they live.

Chaotic character put "liberty" before "law". The opposition of Alignments has a root in the ideology of the French revolution : Liberty - Equality - Fraternity. It is quite hard for liberty (chaos) to coexist with equality (law) in a human government - it is a fragile balance that is doom to fail at the first opportunity (The French revolution was eloquent in that matter). "Fraternity" put the principles of the French revolution on the [good] side.

Fantasy monarchy seen to put law before anything else : Since I am the king, it is my right to...
Fantasy church are about Fraternity : Since I am a priest, I will help you...
Fantasy adventurer seem to put liberty before anything else... they can kill, plunder, steal, grave rob, no problem if it is for a good cause!


Heathansson wrote:
Getting back to the cat burglar example, I don't know how well a chaotic individual would pull off the whole "months of planning" schema. He'd get drunk one night, get laid, wake up hungover, and try to wonder what the hell he was planning, then go down and hotwire a car. A 5.0 Mustang GT to go hauling ass all over the place in.

That sounds more like impulsive, not chaotic.

To me, the chaotic individual will still follow laws until they interfere with the ability of the individual to live their lives. That doesn't mean anarchist, necessarily, for the chaotic individual understands that laws can protect the rights of individuals.
On the other hand, if you take the whole idea that breaking laws is chaotic, then that cat burglar is chaotic no matter how much discipline he displays in planning that perfect heist.
In our group, the chaotic individuals work with the team, though it's often by means of finding something on their own to do that's constructive (and often unexpected). They'll get involved because an individual is in duress as much as if not more than "the right thing to do" argument. This at least holds for CG. The CN characters (not many, as they tend to aggravate the DM and end up dead for various reasons) just follow their own desires and tend to be very impulsive, but not all of them.


Heathansson wrote:
Getting back to the cat burglar example, I don't know how well a chaotic individual would pull off the whole "months of planning" schema...

It seems to me that chaotic characters from your point of view are some kind of deviants. Burglar - even bright ones are chaotic by nature - they do not obey law. A lawful burglar would be following orders from a superior - to steal is again the law but I must obey the order since I am lawful. A lawful good character might confront his a superior with morality issues when ordered to steal.

Liberty's Edge

Well, first off, I think if the chaotic burglar I posited is deviant, the lawful one is a little on the deviant side too. The whole "I'm going to steal" thing is deviant.
All I'm saying is that the cat burglar is lawful because he follows this disciplined plan which he carries out over months of preparation.
The chaotic individual, however, sees a car and hotwires it right then and there for no better reason than to go for a joyride, drive really really fast, try to outwit the cops and get some kicks. Passion of the moment.
I think you can be "lawful" and not obey "The Law" if you have a code of conduct and strictly adhere to it. There are numerous examples of criminal organizations that have their own bylaws that members adhere to. To them, "The Law" is some alien outside thing that doesn't apply to them. It's for the rest of the schmucks out there.

Liberty's Edge

Then there's the example of a "Lawful evil" society, in which a Lawful Good freedom fighter would be labeled the deviant.

Liberty's Edge

Lathiira wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
Getting back to the cat burglar example, I don't know how well a chaotic individual would pull off the whole "months of planning" schema. He'd get drunk one night, get laid, wake up hungover, and try to wonder what the hell he was planning, then go down and hotwire a car. A 5.0 Mustang GT to go hauling ass all over the place in.
That sounds more like impulsive, not chaotic.

Well, the PHB describes chaotic neutral as "A chaotic neutral character follows his whims." Following your whims is impulsive. So in my mind, impulsive and chaotic go hand-in-hand.

It also says they're not completely random, that they wouldn't be just as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.
I just think they're more likely to end up in a situation like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jumping into that river off the cliff with the Bolivian Army on their tails than, say, your average neutral good guy off the street. Whether or not they'd be able to say, "now, what could I have done different in life to not end up in this situation," that would depend on their wisdom score.


The only chaotic characters I've ever had a problem with on a regular basis are chaotic neutral. Just about every CN character I've ever seen played could more aptly be described as Chaotic Crazy Jackass.

I'll let people play Chaotic Evil (in a Good party) before I'll let someone be CN, generally.


hey, my post is back; wow talk about chaos. I have found that nobody interprets alignments the same way; it is one of the toughest concepts to get everyone on the same page about in the game. Law and chaos isnt so much a problem as good, neutrality, and evil. Law and choas always seem to take a back seat to the secondary concept. Everyone seems to have an expectation that good guys will work together in a happy little group regardless of their views on the LCN parameter. I cannot even think of a reason that six or more CG people would work together on multiple adventures, if they can, they are not really chaotic. Chaotic characters are the hardest to play in a game; they constantly engender mistrust and cause teamwork problems as they should as they should believe that this is the right thing to do. A choas guy isnt stupid, they just question everything, all desires, rules, needs, motivations and is definately not one of the herd. At best these characters are a paradox both admired and admonished for their strength of character and boat rocking willfulness.


map alignments and you can really find out what player alignments are regardless of what is written on their character sheets. I know I have said this like a bazillion times on these forums over the last year or so, but I really believe in it and believe that doing the little things like this creates a better game and better players, being a gm takes work.


Valegrim wrote:
...A choas guy isnt stupid, they just question everything, all desires, rules, needs, motivations and is definately not one of the herd.

In my game, chaotic players can work in a lawful group without any complications – a chaotic character knows the rules but he just do not feel that the rules apply to him. Also, a chaotic character has a creative mind – since he is not bound by tradition he is looking for new ways to solve old problems.


Heathansson wrote:
I just think they're more likely to end up in a situation like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jumping into that river off the cliff with the Bolivian Army on their tails than

Butch & Sundance did the horsie high-dive with Lord Baltimore and his trackers on their tail. The Bolivian army didn't chase those two, they just shot 'em.

Liberty's Edge

Okay. A chaotic guy isn't stupid. All I'm saying is look at Jack Sparrow. Chaotic Neutral. He's his own worst enemy. He started the trilogy in the same exact position as he ended the trilogy. There's a reason for that.
And he's not exactly the guy you'd want watching your back.


Heathansson wrote:
There are numerous examples of criminal organizations that have their own bylaws that members adhere to. To them, "The Law" is some alien outside thing that doesn't apply to them.

In my game, a Mafioso would not be lawful just because he adheres to a code of conduct – the Omerta for example. For a Mafioso this code of conduct is a guide to how to stay alive in the jungle of the street. They do not follow the code – they are killed! A lawful character follow a code of conduct because he feels it is “right” to do it, not because he fear something.

Liberty's Edge

And...why does he feel it's right?


I would say that, at least the movie version of the Mafia, would be a LE/LN (at best, and then only some members) organization. They have a regemented way of doing things, procedures, precedents, protocals, etc. Hierarchies and positions- a pretty clearly defined organization that doesn't change structure very often (who fills a position at any given time it completely different).

Likewise, I think that the cat burglar can be just as chaotic as Heathy's impulsive. His character is certainly chaotic, but the difference would probably be their Wisdom score, not alignment. Then again, I can see a cat burglar being lawful, too. It all depends on the rest of the context of their lives and their actions.

And this brings up another point that's good to consider. Nothing exists in a vacuum. A character's personality isn't just their Int score, or Cha score, or alignment. It's a combination of alignment, all the mental stats, and sometimes even their physical stats, and then whatever other quirks the player wants to throw in. For example, you could have a guy with low Str, high Int, medium Wis, and low/medium Cha. The Str might affect him by making him insecure; he can call the shots of a group, but lacking a tremendous Cha score and any physical prowess, he feels better being the puppetmaster behind someone else, someone preferably with equal or lower Int/Wis, yet with higher Str/Cha. If the character had higher Wis, he may realize that his deficiency doesn't matter, and he wouldn't need the "buddy." Or maybe it would just let him make better plans while pulling his "pal's" strings. Both are options.

Is this guy good? Then he probably leans on his friend for support, but never wants to harm him- it's more like a partnership to affect their noble plans, plans that neither could pull off alone. Or is he evil? Then he manipulates and uses this other person, truly filling the puppetmaster role. Is he lawful? He's likely to try and set up his ally in a position of authority, then, and either completely hide or appear as some "assistant." Or is he chaotic? Sometimes he'll appear openly, sometimes not. In either case, his devices and plans are all made on whims and, while possibly pursuing a larger goal, take a very meandering course.

Then comes in background and player added fluff. Was this guy raised on the streets, where he had to form his own little gang to survive? Was he successful? Did a larger organization accept him? Or did a larger organization try to crush him? What if he was from a noble family, and had to develop this tactic to get his way in a political atmosphere. The differences can be huge.

So, you see that character behavior is a total package deal, not a group of piecemeal and isolated elements. This is something that complicate, when included, and confuse, when excluded, alignment discussions, because it has so much bearing on the context of the action. Intent and previous actions must also be weighed; means and ends, desired and real, matter. And on top of all this, one must still keep in mind that, at least when dealing with humanoids and most other creatures, an individual can break the mold, and do something better typified under another alignment, but not actually undergo an alignment change, all depending on frequency, intensity, and the other factors already listed.

It's a very complex thing.


Heathansson wrote:
And...why does he feel it's right?

Well, because it is his alignment - would you steal from somebody for any reason? No, because it would feel "wrong", a lawful character would feel "guilty" if he did something outside law. That does not means a chaotic character would steal at every opportunity, but he does not feel guilty when he broke the law. The whole law/chaos issue has to do with living in society. In a "natural" state - humanity is neutral - like animals in D&D. Civilization impose a code of Law in order to people to live together.

Dark Archive Owner - Johnny Scott Comics and Games

Interesting viewpoint, Anglachel. So, to you, a Chaotic person has no conscience. This would make all chaotic people sociopaths, as they would never feel guilt. It's an interesting theory, but I'm inclined to disagree with it.

Chaotic people can feel guilt just as much as a lawful person. In fact, they probably would feel it more often, as their impulsive actions may end up hurting his friends in ways he never intended.

One's ability to feel remorse or guilt (to me) is more of a result of the Good/Evil paradigm than the Law/Chaos one.

To me, chaotic people are driven by their whims. They are not good planners, and have trouble seeing long term results. They react without thinking in most situations, and rely more on instinct than preparation.

But just like anything else, there are degrees of Chaos, which are tied to mental states, intelligence, wisdom, situations, the other part of the alignment chain (Good/Neutral/Evil), and other extraneous factors as pointed out by Saern above.

My point is it is hard to categorize chaotic behavior because, by definition, it is inconsistent.

From a D&D perspective, I have 2 players who are playing Chaotic Neutral characters in my STAP game. One is a Rogue, and one is a Fighter.

The Rogue often goes off by himself and pursues a long term plan to become a pirate. On the surface, this plan seems lawful. However, he never really achieves this plan as his character is easily distracted - often by shiny objects and barroom games...

The Fighter stays with the party, but keeps to himself. He puts in claims for every piece of treasure, whether he can use it or not, and then gives it to whoever is nicest to him at the time. (Our Cleric has become the unofficial distributor of party treasure). He also tends to do random actions throughout encounters. For instance, he will withdraw from combat to investigate a statue or throne that has caught his eye.

In both cases, the chaotic nature is displayed. And, like most CN characters, there does exist a certain tension among party members, but as their DM, I find it a lot of fun because I never know what they're going to do at any given time.

Nor should anyone ever know how a chaotic person will react, or what he will do.


Larry Lichman wrote:
Interesting viewpoint, Anglachel. So, to you, a Chaotic person has no conscience.

It has a conscience telling him that there is nothing wrong about breaking the law that he believes to be bad, not fair, stupid.

For a chaotic character his "liberty" goes above everything else. What he does with his liberty - good or bad actions - depends the other part of his alignment [G/N/E]. Being so free minded bring a lot of personal responsibilities since you believe your code of conduct is the only one good for you, you do no rely on what society think is fair for every body. When you are chaotic, you are alone with your conscience about what is fair/unfair.

Larry Lichman wrote:

One's ability to feel remorse or guilt (to me) is more of a result of the Good/Evil paradigm than the Law/Chaos one.

You can think a law is bad without being evil, you can break a law without being evil.


including the player; though if you graph alignments you will find that people really are not all that choatic.


I've seen the term thrown out, "code of conduct," in reference to a chaotic character. There's something I disagree with. I don't think a chaotic character has a code. His morals might prohibit him from taking certain actions (a CG person isn't likely to be a murderer, for example), but that's hardly a code. A code of conduct, to me, is some rather specific, and not inherently moral-related set of precepts which one agrees or decides to follow. This is a lawful thing, and I don't see a chaotic person as having one. What does it matter where a limitation comes from? It's still a limit. What happens when the chaotic person comes into a situation where there's a conflict with his code? If he chooses the code, he's being lawful.

Likewise, lawful alignments aren't all about following laws. You think a LN druid gives a rat's rear end about the local ordinaces of the kingdom? Probably not. However, such a person likely has a code of conduct which they choose to follow. The same goes for monks, many clerics, paladins in evil lands, and even lawful dragons. That's totally different from choosing to acknowledge the laws of the land, although the mindset are similar and often compliment one another, and are even coexistant in many cases (a paladin in a good kingdom, for example, follows both the laws and his code).

Just my take on the matter.


LN druid; hmm his own worst enemy

Dark Archive Owner - Johnny Scott Comics and Games

Anglachel wrote:
Well, because it is his alignment - would you steal from somebody for any reason? No, because it would feel "wrong", a lawful character would feel "guilty" if he did something outside law. That does not means a chaotic character would steal at every opportunity, but he does not feel guilty when he broke the law. The whole law/chaos issue has to do with living in society. In a "natural" state - humanity is neutral - like animals in D&D. Civilization impose a code of Law in order to people to live together.

Law and Chaos apply to more than living in a society. They are two sides of the same coin, not exclusive to humanity. You see law and chaos in nature all the time. Perhaps it would be better if we used the synonym for law for our discussion: Order. Being lawful means you are a creature of order. You tend to like things tidy, with everything in its place. Chaotic people are perfectly comfortable living in a clutter. Neither has anything to do with society or its laws. Keeping this in mind may help clarify some points.

I agree with Saern about code of conduct as well. By the very nature of being chaotic, a purely chaotic individual wouldn’t have one. Any code of conduct, or any set of rules an individual follows, leans that individual toward being lawful. Being lawful is more than adhering to the laws of civilization. As several posters have described, you can be lawful and completely ignore the laws of civilization.

Some definitions from my dictionary:

Guilt: A feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

Conscience: The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.

Sociopath: Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. One who is interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.

Based on the argument presented above, it would seem we are describing a classic sociopath - assuming we take his lack of guilt a step beyond the mere act of stealing and apply it to all actions of this individual, no matter how heinous.

This would seem to imply that all chaotic individuals are sociopaths, which is not the case. I would say that a Chaotic Evil person would better fit the definition in Anglachel's post than a Chaotic Good, or even Chaotic Neutral individual. This is where both sides of alignment need to come into play. The Good or Evil really lends itself to remorse/guilt, or a lack thereof. Chaos on its own, or Chaotic Neutral, is not necessarily an indicator of a conscience or feeling of remorse.

Here’s something that always sticks with me when I think of Chaotic Neutral alignment: I once read (I believe it was in an old issue of Dragon, from the Real Old Days) that if someone played Chaotic Neutral the way it is written, they would be playing an insane character. He would have no morals, no code, and would strictly be a creature of instinct and immediate gratification. The author indicated CN was an alignment that should be reserved for monsters and villains, but not for PCs.

Take it for what it’s worth, but there’s a lot of truth in the argument.


Hmm, there are many ways to interpret what is chaotic and what is lawful...one division might be also how they view other people. For a chaotic person, each person is a radiant and precious butterfly , she always considers the situation and avoids making generalizaions as much as possible, while lawful person sees others as part of groups and looks for general things.
Chaotic people care about You. They might do their best to help you if you need it (CG), but never consider "greater good". You won't hear them say "sacrifices have to be made". Or they might take extra pleasure in Your suffering (CE) as opposed to LE people who will dispose you if you are nuisance but in other ways don't particularly think about you.
Of course this philosophy has some against-the-type effects, like assassin planning and preparing to kill someone for long time would be chaotic, while madman who goes to murder spree would be lawful. In general chaotic people would be less violent than lawful people, but when they choose violence they do mean it.
The problem of chaos is that they are not particularly efficient, they get bogged down by details and moral relativism, while lawful side can make difficult decisions...while details and individuals can be crushed.
In Blood War, strength of Abyssal Hordes is that each one of them from infinite layers of Abyss have to be killed. If you hit just one warrior from fifth division of third layer of Baator, you cripple the whole fifth division and subsequently third layer and whole Baator.
If you hit one warrior from Abyss, well, that's just one warrior, and after that you still have to deal with rest of the hundred radiant and precious butterflies, who are bit more pissed off. Fighting Abyss can be as frustrating as punching fog.

Chaotic person does not by principle oppose every rule as that would be lawful...just like person who sticks to rules and principles no matter what the consequences and if they make any sense does head towards chaos. She however does question every time if the rule is applicable in this individual situation and can go other way (and sometimes might go other way just because it would be more interesting...). Chaotic person can plan ahead and not act on impulses, but she is constantly re-evaluating the situation and tweaks the plans as necessary.

Some existing written D&D rule might oppose this philosophy but they are written by anti-chaotic propaganda machine and not applicable in reality. Participants in that propaganda machine are welcome to find their inner radiant and precious butterfly in our meditation center in Arborea.


Very interesting perspective Magdalena, thanks.


I lean toward law, mostly because of my OCD, but aspire to chaos. Chaos is fun sometimes.

However, law and chaos (and good and evil for that matter), are only social. A chaotic person rebells while a lawful one accepts, but inside a chaotic person may have perfectly clear and reasoned idea of why they are rebelling against a certain status quo. Lawful and chaotic are not necessarily personality types, but reaction types. A "chaotic" person will lean toward more chaotic actions/reactions, but they themselves are not part of any sort of "chaos" and are perfectly capable and willing to perform "lawful" actions, as you said above. (The possable exception is outsiders)


magdalena thiriet wrote:

Hmm, there are many ways to interpret what is chaotic and what is lawful...one division might be also how they view other people. For a chaotic person, each person is a radiant and precious butterfly , she always considers the situation and avoids making generalizaions as much as possible, while lawful person sees others as part of groups and looks for general things.

Chaotic people care about You. They might do their best to help you if you need it (CG), but never consider "greater good". You won't hear them say "sacrifices have to be made". Or they might take extra pleasure in Your suffering (CE) as opposed to LE people who will dispose you if you are nuisance but in other ways don't particularly think about you.
Of course this philosophy has some against-the-type effects, like assassin planning and preparing to kill someone for long time would be chaotic, while madman who goes to murder spree would be lawful. In general chaotic people would be less violent than lawful people, but when they choose violence they do mean it.
The problem of chaos is that they are not particularly efficient, they get bogged down by details and moral relativism, while lawful side can make difficult decisions...while details and individuals can be crushed.
In Blood War, strength of Abyssal Hordes is that each one of them from infinite layers of Abyss have to be killed. If you hit just one warrior from fifth division of third layer of Baator, you cripple the whole fifth division and subsequently third layer and whole Baator.
If you hit one warrior from Abyss, well, that's just one warrior, and after that you still have to deal with rest of the hundred radiant and precious butterflies, who are bit more pissed off. Fighting Abyss can be as frustrating as punching fog.

Chaotic person does not by principle oppose every rule as that would be lawful...just like person who sticks to rules and principles no matter what the consequences and if they make any sense does head towards chaos. She however does question every time if the...

Hmmm.... I tend to believe that whether or not a lawful or chaotic person cares about a group or individual, the immediate or the long-term, to be situational and not so built-in to a particular alignment.

For example, in the STAP:

Spoiler:
When the party is bouncing around in the Abyss and even making alliances with some of its more powerful residents, a paladin may care about the individual and the immediate (focusing on not making a deal with Orcus specifically because it's against the Code right here and now), while the CG ranger/rogue/whatever may focus on the "greater good" and realize that if Demogorgon isn't stopped, millions of innocents will die; so laws and codes be damned, this is what's needed to save the world!

Just my take on the situation.


It appears to me that a lot of discussion about law versus chaos is tainted because the word “Chaos” seems to carry a lot of negative connotations in english. Maybe it could help to think a lawful character to be of the “Fair” alignment, the chaotic one to be of the “Rebel” alignment.


I'd say that for such discussions, as has been suggested before, the world law should be replaced with order. I personally don't have a problem dissociating chaos from negative connotations, but perhaps it would also help to rename it, for purposes of these discussions, disorder.

Fair vs. rebel actually charges the words with more connotations along the good and evil axis, for me.


Saern wrote:

For example, in the STAP:

Spoiler (removed)

Just my take on the situation.

I agree on the way characters behave but I read the situation differently:

Spoiler:
While both LG paladin and CG ranger are pursuing good, they see Orcus differently based on law-chaos alignment. Paladin considers him a demon, and one does not deal with demons, no matter what. However, ranger thinks Orcus as potential useful ally in this situation first, and making a deal with him is thus a good idea. He might not be too happy about demons but he is also not willing to make blanket statements about all demons in all situations. he deals with them on individual basis.

Us mere primes tend to show both lawful and chaotic behaviour regardless of what it says in our character sheets, and that is to be expected. Thus CG person might have some vague mental concept about "generic good" though he might still be more likely to apply that in more specific way, thinking about his family back home or that nice waitress in the inn he met last week or even those bad people who still don't deserve the fate coming from plan of BBEG. He might even use generic term "people" or "mankind" even though those are lawful concepts regarding faceless masses that LG paladin wishes to protect.

Outsiders then can be bit more extreme...one way to think how do chaotic outsiders think and speak is to take a look at a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", which among other things describes a language without nouns...after all, why describe a Chihuahua and Dane with same word "dog"? Or even the same dog when it is young or old, is it actually a same dog? Or when you see it from front or from the side?
Another approach would be that of tinker gnomes in Dragonlance, who have extremely long and detailed names describing everything they are, and which change over time. In their attention to detail, they have pretty much taken lawfulness all the way until they have reached chaos.

Yes, true chaos like that of Limbo is a bloody mess. But then again, one well-placed "divide by zero" error brings the whole plane of Mechanus to grinding halt.

Fair vs Rebel do sound also to me worse than Law vs Chaos (well, it's not as bad as describing chaos as "treachery"...). I might go for Stubborness vs Common Sense just to reverse the situation (hey, sometimes reversing the situation just for the heck of it is fun...and even useful) but I'd guess most people woldn't agree with me on that :)


Hmm, the view of the individual still doesn't really resonate with me, but I understand what you're getting at an agree on a certain level.

In any case, you'd be correct about the disagreement on stubborness vs. common sense, as one could easily argue that the chaotic person stubbornly refuses to accept anyone else's plans but his own, where as the lawful person looks for multiple ways and is open to creative uses of the laws/ordinance/order/etc. at hand.

Assigning behavioral and personality traits to alignments on the Law vs. Chaos axis strikes me as a mistake that is bound to bring in too many connotations from too many people that only muddy the waters. I even think Law was a poor choice of words, and, as previously mentioned, it should be referred to as Order. That seems to be even more neutral, or at least more in the scope of the true aim of the alignment.


Well, "individual vs generic" is one possible way of mapping order/chaos axis. Order is indeed better word than law, I'll stick to chaos unless someone comes up with better suggestion. besides, it is connected to chaos theory, which boils down to idea that effects of events are in no proportion to size of events (and that is a hooray for individuality, isn't it?)

Division could also be meade according to planning vs impulsiveness or actual following vs breaking the law...but those are more matter of behaviour instead of actual philosophical views and thus for me not sufficient. And the way I see it, there is no difference in value, both sides have ups and downs and usually it is better to have both sides in moderation...

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